Mum robbed of £225,000 by best friend on day she buried her son's ashes - USA DAILY NEWS

Mum robbed of £225,000 by best friend on day she buried her son’s ashes

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A mum was shocked and devastated to find out her best pal stole a staggering £225,000 from right from under her nose.

June Watson, a financial advisor, drained cash from the company owned by her best friend, mum of three Yvonne Cannings.

On the same day that Yvonne was burying the ashes of her son Ben – who tragically died of cancer at just 15-years-old – Watston stole money from her.

Police believe she blew the money on luxury handbags, jewellery, and loan repayments, although most of it is still unaccounted for.

Watson was jailed in January for four-and-half years after a jury found her guilty of two counts of theft.

On Monday, a judge ordered her to pay £23,000 during a proceeds of crime hearing or face another 12-months in prison.



The two women became best friends

 

Yvonne, from Great Harwood, Lancashire, said: “Everyone liked June. She was friendly and genuine, and seemed to have a heart of gold.

“She worked for me but we became best friends too. We had even shared a bed together after a night out.

“I helped her out with cash. I gave her £500 for a wedding present. I thought I could trust her with my life.

“To find out that she had been stealing from us, all through the trauma of burying my son’s ashes, was a huge shock. It was worse than heartless – beyond contempt.

“I’ve been betrayed, cheated and lied to by a woman I trusted and sat next to every day for five years.

“After she was found out, she ran away to a hotel – which she paid for with my money!

“She is twisted and evil and totally shameless.”

June began working for Yvonne, 60, in February 2009, the pair having known each other socially before then.

Yvonne added: “I had built a company up from scratch, offering financial services, and I had worked so hard.

“I would work in the evenings, whilst my sons were little, and I didn’t even earn enough to pay myself a wage for a while.

“We made a lot of sacrifices.



Yvonne Cannings saw £225,000 stolen from her by her friend and employee

 

“The company did well and we started employing people.

“I got on really well with June; we sat opposite each other at work and chatted all day.

“She was ten years younger than me; she had two kids and was divorced. We had a lot in common.

“We went on works nights out and Christmas parties. We went to the races. We even piled into a double bed together after a night out because there was nowhere else to sleep.

“We went on holiday together to Barcelona. We were best friends. I felt I could trust her implicilty.”

Yvonne had lost a son, Ben, to Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in July 1999, aged just 15.

The family were distraught and were unable to face burying his ashes until July 2015.

Yvonne says: “Losing Ben was devastating for me, my ex-husband, and our two other sons.

“I had a series of appointments with the funeral directors whilst we chose Ben’s headstone, the wording and the photos.

“After every appointment, I would return the office in floods of tears and June would comfort me – whilst all the time she was stealing behind my back.”



Bank statements show how relentlessly June stole from her friend’s company

 

June gradually took over the accounts side of the business while Yvonne continued as manager.

She said: “June would do the books in front of me – it never occurred to me that she was stealing from me.

“Then she would pop out to the bank – and withdraw money for herself from my account, in work time.”

At the start of 2016, June announced she was getting married.

Yvonne gave her £500 in cash as a wedding present.

In June 2016, Yvonne arranged to call her bank to discuss her overdraft. That same morning, knowing the game was up, June called in sick.

Yvonne was horrified to hear that her account was massively overdrawn.

She added: “I was in shock. The business was doing well, I thought we had a healthy balance. But I didn’t think June was stealing from us. I thought maybe she had duplicated payments by mistake.

“Nobody at all in the office suspected her. We were sure there had to be an explanation.”

But Yvonne then discovered there had been a string of unauthorised cash withdrawals, on the company cards. Watson was the only one with access to the cards.



At first Yvonne could not believe her friend had stolen from her

 

She slowly came to the horrific realisation that June – her best friend – had been stealing from her right under her nose.

Yvonne said: “Some days, she would withdraw up to £750 cash and put it straight into her own account.

“We found that she had forged statements, to make it seem as though the company was healthy.

“To my total disgust, I discovered she had stolen from me throughout the months I had been choosing Ben’s headstone.

“She had also taken money on July 17, 2015 – the day we buried Ben’s ashes.”

Yvonne managed to track June down to a hotel, paid for with stolen money.

She says: “I challenged her about stealing from me on the day I had buried my son’s ashes and she just shrugged her shoulders.

“Days later, I went to pick up my company car from her and she reported it stolen. She was so hard-faced it was beyond belief.

“I was left absolutely penniless. I almost lost the business completely. My youngest son was living at home and he helped me out with bills.

“Even so, I couldn’t afford to have the heating on. I had to shiver my way through winter. I had to take in a lodger.

“My friends brought me food parcels. They were so kind, and it reaffirmed my faith in human nature. But I felt humiliated too, accepting help.

“June’s fiancé told me that she would often splash out and buy drinks for everyone in the pub. She also had jewellery and a designer handbag.

“But that does not account for all that missing money.”

Police estimated June had stolen a staggering £225,000.



June was jailed for four and a half years

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After Watson was charged, Yvonne discovered she was already working at another company.

She said: “I was incensed to think she might be stealing from someone else. I followed her car to work, and then I informed her boss what she’d done.

“I was determined to make people aware.

“She’s caused absolute carnage, not just for me and my employees but also for her ex-fiancé and her family.”

In January this year, June Watson, 50, was jailed for four and half years at Preston Crown Court.

Yvonne added: “She even tried to blame it all on me. I was furious to have my own character questioned in court.

Yvonne says: “I’m not sure I will ever see a penny back from her. But it’s not about the money. I wanted to see justice done and I wanted her shamed in public.

“I’ve lived through much worse than this. And I won’t let this drag me down.”

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